A new clinic placement can be exciting and daunting all at the same time. You already have some experience working with patients and now it’s time to hone your skills working in a different environment with a new population of patients and new preceptor(s). For me, none of my clinic rotations were alike. They ranged from a busy hospital setting, to an ENT specializing in cochlear implants, to working in a school district. Each setting came with its own unique set of challenges as well as its own insights and lessons. While I’m sure everyone has their own set of insights, here are my five tips for starting a new clinic rotation.
1. Come ready to learn.
As one of my preceptors would always say, “no one is a finished product.” There’s always more to learn, there are always ways to improve. Each clinic rotation, each day, and even every appointment will bring experiences you can learn from. Starting on day one, find out how your preceptor would like to communicate with you. Discuss how he or she gives feedback as well as preferences in receiving questions – should you ask questions as they come up following each appointment, or should you save them for the end of the day? Be ready to learn from your preceptor and learn from your patients. Be open minded, be present, and be willing to try new things or try doing things in a different way.
2. Be flexible.
I am a planner, so being flexible can be difficult for me. I like to plan for my day as much as possible, but you never know what’s going to ultimately happen. Plan, but also go with the flow. If something happens (a patient is late, you get moved to another schedule, etc.) move forward and don’t let the disruption to your plan shake you. Remember, as important a day in clinic is for you, it’s also an important day for your patients. We often need to be flexible to accommodate for our patients, and even as students we need to keep the patient as our first priority.
Take time at the end of each day to reflect on what happened and what you learned. I like to keep track of questions I’ve had throughout the day and topics to look into further when I get home. I also keep track of things that went well and things I need to work on for the next day. I write these things down in a notebook so I can monitor how each day went and look back at it later if I need to.
4. Set goals.
Before beginning a new clinical rotation, I like to set goals for myself. Both long-term goals to work on throughout my time there, and short-term, daily goals that will help me take steps towards the bigger goals. If your preceptor is open to it, I would suggest sharing these goals with him or her. Think about what steps you will need to take in order to achieve these goals and check in with yourself throughout the rotation.
5. Step up.
A new clinical setting will likely come with new experiences, maybe some of which you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in yet. It’s always intimidating to do something for the first time, but I always learn best by stepping up and trying it for myself. I remember on my first day in a vestibular appointment, I helped administer the VNG with guidance from my preceptor. When we got to the caloric she said that I would be doing it and she handed me the irrigator. I was so nervous, but I figured, there would be a first time for this eventually. I got into position, and literally pulled the trigger. Everything went well and I was glad that I tried.
Emily Lundberg is a fourth-year AuD/PhD student at the University of Colorado and an extern at the University of Colorado Hospital. She currently serves as the Secretary of the SAA Board of Directors. Her audiology interests include signal processing of hearing aids and cochlear implants, hearing and aging, quality of sound, and music perception.